Creature collecting is a thriving piece of the RPG marketplace. Juggernauts like Pokémon continue to break sales records while competitors like Digimon garner critical and commercial acclaim worldwide. Something about the collection of colorful creatures is widely appealing to both kids and adults, it’s surprising we don’t see many games try to break into that mold as we do. For every Yo-Kai Watch or Ooblets, we get tons of failed imitators that never catch on. For classic monster collectors out there, nostalgia titles like Disc Creatures may be the way to go.
Developed by a singular Japanese indie developer known as SATTO, Disc Creatures is a deliberate throwback to the yesteryears of the Game Boy Color. Purposefully retro in its visuals and superb audio mixing. Disc Creatures hopes to invoke the same feelings players may have had when they first fired up their copy of Pokémon Gold and Silver over twenty years ago.
The game pretty much succeeds in this regard too. Not only is Disc Creatures a game that pushes the nostalgia buttons, but it also does something unique enough to escape the trap of most indie games that do; it doesn’t rely on the retro themes to excuse poor gameplay. Some retro-themed titles are super simple but effective, while others simply coast along their retro visuals to get by with bland gameplay. Disc Creatures, like any true creature collecting RPG, is a game chock to the brim with strategy and personality that makes it stand out amongst its peers.
What gives Disc Creatures a ton of personality is the creatures themselves, which I would argue is the hallmark of any good monster-collecting RPG. In this case, each creature visually has a unique personality, with solid designs using the Game Boy-like graphics to color code the 200 creatures you can collect. The creatures are not one note either; much like Dragon Quest Monster, they also can communicate with the player. Some are incredibly friendly, others more sinister or maniacal, offering a nice blend of familiar monster collecting all the while having a darker edge in terms of its presentation.
For the most part, it boils down to the battle mechanics of Disc Creatures, which takes elements from Pokémon as well as the Dragon Quest Monster series. Players are a new Disc Ranger and will have to command a team of disc creatures, monsters that co-inhabit the world with their human counterparts. Battles are turn-based, where the player's squad of three creatures must fight using various moves against wild creatures, other Rangers, and even more frightening enemies.
Much of the mechanics will be a familiar site to those who have played a Pokémon game before. You have physical and mind - or special - attacks, the abilities with typings, secondary effects on some moves, and type strengths and weaknesses. Even without a full explanation as to the nitty-gritty of each mechanic, it is easy to catch onto the styles and abilities of your team of creatures as you go through battles in the overworld.
Unique factors in the battle system also spice up the strategy. For example, each creature uses a specific amount of energy for their moves and must eventually replenish their energy to continue to fight. While they can take a turn to recharge, the catch is that those turns leave them vulnerable to automatic critical hits. So, it is a risk/reward system that favors strategic play to keep on the pressure against enemy teams.
This is just one example that helps to set Disc Creatures apart from being just another poor Pokémon clone. The game is chock-full of narrative and side missions, with well over 20 hours of content to get through it all. This includes attempting to collect all 200 different creatures, which is well worth the effort thanks to the game's solid design. There is frankly nothing more you can ask for in a monster collecting RPG.
That is the truth about good games like Disc Creatures. It doesn’t ride the nostalgia wave as a cheap cash-in but is rather a lovely homage to the games that spawned its subgenre. It is clearly a labor of love by SATTO, and the fruits of their efforts have created a game well worth your time and money. Disc Creatures is an easy recommendation for not only monster collector fans, but for anyone looking for a good example of nostalgia done right.
Disc Creatures was played on the PC, with a code provided by the developers.